When the brain actively engages in mental activities, it generates beta waves. These beta waves are of a relatively low amplitude. The frequency of beta waves ranges from 14 to 28 cycles per second. A strongly engaged mind is using beta waves, like a person in an active conversation. A person debating would be in high beta (18 to 28 cycles per second). A person making a speech, a teacher giving a lesson, or a talk show host performing “live” would all be in beta when they are engaged in their work.
Where beta waves represent arousal, alpha waves represent non-arousal. Alpha brainwaves are slower, and higher in amplitude. Their frequency ranges from 7 to 14 cycles per second. A person who takes time out to reflect or meditate is usually in an alpha state. People who are Reiki practitioners utilize the high alpha brain wave. The alpha brain wave is a great healing wave. Some scientists believe the alpha wave “removes” pain and relaxes the body.
Theta brainwaves are of even greater amplitude and slower frequency than alpha waves. This frequency range is normally between 4 and 7 cycles a second. A person who is driving on a freeway, and discovers that they can’t recall the last five miles, is often in a theta state–induced by the process of steady freeway driving. The repetitious nature of that form of driving compared to a country road where a person may have to concentrate on unfamiliar turns and terrain would differentiate a theta state and a beta state.
Individuals who do a lot of freeway driving often get good ideas during the periods when they are in theta. Individuals who run outdoors often are in the state of mental relaxation that is slower than alpha and when in theta, they are prone to a flow of ideas. This can also occur in the shower or tub or even while shaving or brushing your hair. It is a state where tasks become so automatic that you can mentally disengage from them. In this state free-flowing ideas often occur without censorship, guilt or the “ego.” It is a very positive mental state where the individual connects with “the Universal Creator of All That Is.” Theta waves are always creative, inspirational, and characterized by very spiritual sensations. Theta is the first stage of the Dream State.
Delta waves are of the greatest amplitude and slowest frequency. They range from 1.5 to 4 cycles per second. Deep dreamless sleep would take a person down to the lowest delta wave frequency (1.5 to 2.5 cycles per second.)
When an individual goes to bed and reads for a few minutes before attempting sleep, that person is likely to be in low beta. When the book is put down, the lights are turned off and the eyes are closed, the individuals brainwaves will descend from beta, to alpha, to theta and finally, when once asleep, to delta.
Gamma waves range from 40 to 5000 cycles a second. Gamma waves stimulate the release of Beta endorphins and seem to be involved in perception and mental consciousness. The brain has been observed to switch back and forth between Gamma and Theta with no other waves present during times of emergency. Gamma waves disappear when a person is undergoing anesthesia.